We recently concluded the second of our new CompNewsNetwork Pulse Polls, querying our industry on their views of the rights of undocumented workers' who are injured on the job. This unscientific survey provided some interesting insight on how respondents feel about the issue.
As this site reported Friday, when asked, “Should injured workers' who are found to be working on false documents be denied workers' compensation benefits?”, 35.4% of people who participated said, yes, benefits should be denied. A majority, 64.6% indicated that some or all benefits should be provided in spite of their legal status regarding immigration. 38.9% thought all benefits should be provided, while 25.7% indicated that only medical benefits should be due.
Personally, as someone who believes that we have an ethical obligation to provide care for anyone injured on the job, I was pleased to see that the majority of respondents felt as they did. There certainly can be an effective argument for withholding indemnity payments, since they were not legally supposed to be earning wages in this country, but to try and withhold medical care simply is not right from a humanitarian perspective. After all, an employer still received the benefit of their labor, and premiums were paid to protect them (assuming legitimate payroll practices were followed).
When asked, “Should injured workers found to be using false documentation for the purpose of gaining employment be reported to the government and deported?”, there was a pretty strong majority response. 75.2% said “yes”, while 22.1% believed that they should not. A small percentage were not sure. And to the question, “If an injured worker has already been deported, should benefits continue to be provided?”, 57.5% answered “No”, while 22.1% thought all benefits should continue. Another 17.7% believed that only medical benefits should continue in that scenario.
This last question really presented, in my opinion, some interesting results. A decent majority indicated they supported benefits for illegals, but they also supported terminating benefits if they are deported; an action they also supported. Looking at just the people who indicated they believed benefits (Medical only or both) should be provided, 63% supported deportation, and 35% indicated that those benefits should be terminated if deportation occurs. That means that a substantive group of survey responders think that benefits should be provided, unless, of course, the deportation they support occurs, wherein none would then be due.
Interesting. In other words, have a nice day, but don't have it here.
Looking solely at people who supported deportation, support for any benefit provision predictably dropped slightly. In that group, almost half, 45.9% did not believe any benefits should be due these workers. I also found it interesting that those who opposed deportation for the injured undocumented worker were more consistent in their support of full benefit provision. 84% of those folks supported full benefit provision. 56% supported continuation of full benefits after deportation, and 12% supported medical only in that scenario. Just 28% called for benefit cessation after deportation.
So, the bottom line appears to be that the majority of the industry (based on this unscientific sampling) would support the provision of medical benefits for injured undocumented workers, but fundamentally believe they should not remain in the country. Furthermore, the findings indicate fairly wide support for the cessation of our obligations at the border.
In the end, it would probably be easier for all if we could just fix the dysfunctional mess that we call immigration policy in the first place. That is something that most of us could probably agree on.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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